Mailbag: Headlight Replacement Tips for Better Night-Driving Visibility

Q: I have a 1978 Ford F-250 that I have owned for 30 years. My vision isn’t what it used to be and lately I’ve found myself struggling to see at night. I’m looking for replacement headlights that will improve my night driving safety.

A: Like so many other automotive advancements, lighting technology has come a long way since 1978. There are a couple of options available to improve your night driving experience.

The first thing we would recommend is to update your 40-year-old wiring.

Your Ford’s original headlight wiring is routed through a bulkhead connector and several switches before finally making its way to the headlights.

With this configuration, corroded connections and old wiring can create a drop of two volts—or more—at the headlights, significantly reducing light output. American Autowire’s Headlight Enhancement Relay Kit (AWW-500403) uses two relays (one each for high beam and low beam) that are activated by your high/low beam switch. It sources power directly from your battery, delivering full voltage to the headlights.

For replacement headlights, there are several sealed beam headlight conversion kits that fit your truck, most for under $100. These headlamps usually accept standard H4 bulbs and allow for a wide range of performance bulbs to be used (watch the wattage on these bulbs, as some are for off-road use only).

If you want to step up to the latest technology and style, check out Rigid Industries’ Truck-Lite Headlights.

These LED headlamps are DOT legal and produce a crisp pattern with bright, white light similar to daylight, which vastly improves projection distance and visibility. They are available with heated lenses that automatically activate under 50°F to melt snow and ice.

NOTE: Some conversion lights may require minor headlight bucket modifications for bulb clearance.

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  1. I have a 2004 Chevy 1500 Z71 truck… I’m currently running 37 inch tires on it with a 9 inch lift kit and I’m wanting to know what can I do to the engine For like camshaft wise to improve the lower in horsepower on my vehicle?

    • Down low you’re not worried about horsepower, you need torque, especially in a modified 4×4 like you have. I don’t know what your entire setup is (engine displacement, transmission, gear ratio, other mods to the whole truck) but, torque is where it all starts. Personally, I don’t build or work on anything newer than OBD l but, in this case, it’s all the same, torque down low and power up high. I’m sure if you give the Summit tech reps all the specs of your truck they can help you get where you need to be.

  2. I’m a 51 year old owner operator truck driver with nearly 3 million accident free miles behind me. As much as we hate to admit/acknowledge it, as we age, our eyesight obviously isn’t what it used to be. While all of these “upgrade” headlights are great, the first recommendation I’d make is an appointment with your optometrist or ophthalmologist. Since most of my professional driving is done at night, I had to admit to myself (and my wife lol) that I couldn’t see as well as I used to. I’ve worn prescription glasses since age 6 so my eyes have never been perfect but they weren’t ever worse than 20/40. However, over the years, they’ve become more sensitive to light for various reasons. While I have installed better headlights in ALL of our vehicles, the biggest difference came from the eyeglass lenses that the doctor recommended to me. I don’t remember off hand what the the technical name is but, they’re a yellow shaded clear lense. Doc said that they’d help with night vision and she was spot on! They’re also great for cloudy/dreary days when there isn’t much sunlight. I don’t know why but, they somehow make my vision sharper in low light conditions than my regular glasses.

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